UPDATE On Sunday, April 19, In an official congregational meeting, First Congregational Church of Berkeley voted to amend its Open and Affirming Statement to include the phrases "gender identity" and "gender expression" to be more welcoming to the transgender community. More of the story below.
On Sunday, March 1, three members of the transgender community shared their powerful stories and experience. We are grateful for First Church member Sonny Graves, and PSR students and activists Schmian Evans and Jamie Lee Sprague-Ballou for their testimonies.
During the next few weeks, First Church will consider amending the church?s Open and Affirming (ONA) Statement to include ?gender expression and gender identity? to make our welcome to the transgender community more direct. The Church Council has had two discussions of the issue and will be considering the language change at their March meeting. Moderator Nick Kukulan has asked the Ministries to discuss the issue at their next meetings so that the conversation can be widely spread.
?Gender identity? is one?s innermost core concept of self which can include male, female, a blend of both or neither, and many more?how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One?s gender identity can be the same or different than the sex assigned at birth.
?Gender expression? refers to the ways in which people externally communicate their gender identity to others through behavior, clothing, hairstyle, voice, and other forms of presentation.
The Diversity Team will also be spending some time in conversation at their next meeting at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, March 11 in the Sunburst Room. All are welcome. In previous meetings, the Team has endorsed bringing this issue forward and has supported a period of education.
A representative of Gender Spectrum, a local agency that provides education, training and support for children and youth has visited First Church twice?once with the YES middle school youth group and once with parents of youth.
One potential outcome of the discussion is that the congregation would vote on this change in language at a congregational meeting on Sunday, April 19 after the 11 am service.
A document that includes the full ONA statement with the suggested language change and other helpful resources was distributed at the Church Council meeting and recent Learning Hour and is available on the First Church website. Download the document here...
Congregation members might also wish to download a resource prepared by PFLAG called A Guide to Being a Trans Ally.